A woman who scared off a bear while camping in Montana died later that night when the animal returned and killed her.
Leah Davis Lokan had traveled to Montana from her home in Chico, California, as part of a cycling trip with her sister and a friend when they decided to spend the night in Ovando on July 5, 2021. While the attack happened last year, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) released its review of the incident earlier this month, which is just now gaining media attention.
Lokan’s sister stayed at a hotel nearby, but Lokan decided to sleep alone in her tent alongside the tent of Joe and Kim Cole, whom she had met in Texas during her trip. Around 3:00 a.m. on July 6, the three campers woke up due to noise at the campsite, with Lokan yelling “bear, bear.” All three began making noise and screaming to scare the bear away. After it left, Lokan moved the food she had in her tent to a nearby building in the hopes the bear would not return. She also brought back a can of bear spray.
The Coles later told investigators that they asked Lokan if she would rather stay in the hotel with her sister, but she declined, and the three went back to sleep.
Less than an hour later, just after 4:00 a.m. Joe Cole woke up to a noise that he knew meant Lokan was being attacked, though she didn’t scream. He began screaming “bear, bear” and rushed out of his tent to use bear spray against the animal, while his wife blew her whistle. The couple saw the bear “pouncing up and down” on Lokan and her tent as Joe continued to use the bear spray. Joe said the bear made eye contact with him before turning and leaving the site.
The Cole’s realized Lokan’s tent had been dragged about 10 feet and found her lifeless body half out of the tent, still in her sleeping bag. The Coles ran to a nearby store for help. Emergency responders performed CPR in an attempt to revive Lokan, but those attempts failed. An autopsy report found that Lokan had died instantly, suffering a broken neck and severed spinal cord.
The IGBC reported that after the bear killed Lokan, it found a chicken coop and ate chickens and their feed. Wildlife service officials tracked the bear for days, finally finding it at a different chicken coop on July 9 and killing it. DNA evidence determined it was the same bear that had killed Lokan.